One of my contacts for this week’s Tech Thursday article, “Repack Problematic Despite Some Progress,” on the FCC’s Jan. 27 repack public notices was Louis Libin, a man who wears many hats.
Many know Libin as president and founder of technology consultancy Broad Comm. Others have worked with him as national frequency coordinator for RF-laden broadcast events like the Democrat and Republican National Conventions.
Libin is also the executive director of the Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance, an industry group made up of broadcasters from the LPTV, translator and full-power communities. It is his role as an advocate for the interests of low-power and TV translator stations that made me want to get his perspective on the new repack public notices and what they mean for LPTV and translator stations.
What he had to say seemed to deserve standalone coverage, so I am presenting it here in the Playout blog.
In a nutshell, Libin says the public notices reflect “minimal effort” on the part of the Federal Communications Commission “to address the real LPTV issues.”
“They aren’t taking any new approach to LPTV. We’ve gone through this many times,” he says. “Their solutions for LPTV aren’t really solutions.” LPTV and TV translators are not included in the agency’s phased transition.
“I think this is a very big mistake because in this new world, the next phase of television which will include ATSC 3.0, it seems to me that LPTV and TV translator stations will play a really big role,” says Libin.
On the very day this week’s Tech Thursday was published, the FCC published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to authorize deployment of ATSC 3.0 on a voluntary basis. Ironically, while the commission’s repack rules don’t address the real issue facing LPTV and translator stations, which can be summarized as no real protection from the outset, says Libin, it is these same stations that can help ATSC 3.0 realize its full potential.
“Put aside better audio and video for a moment,” says Libin of next-gen TV enhancements. “One of the biggest benefits of ATSC 3.0 is amazing mobile service, not just in one location but an entire coverage area or DMA.”
LPTV and TV translator stations are located “all over the place,” he says. This means they will be critical to a broadcast future where delivering mobile service is an important piece of the industry’s overall business model.
“LPTV will survive, be strong and have a more important role to play because of these new requirements of broadcasting,” he says.